The Great Balancing Act
By Rob Reeves, President/CEO Redfish Technology
Work-life balance is something we at Redfish have always taken seriously. Part of the reason is because I personally have fallen completely out of balance in this arena.
Off the deep end
My recruiting adventure started straight out of school, driven, energized and ready to make some headway in my career. It was a bullpen office of telephones and fax machines as the miracle of emailed documents didn’t arrive for almost two more years. Times were good in general and, in the dot com days especially if you wanted to make more money, you could simply work more. So, I did. Twelve hour days were not uncommon for me, followed by bringing work home to continue my searching for candidates and new companies while shoving a quick dinner down and turning on a game in the background. That was “relaxing”.
It wasn’t until years later (after being semi-present emotionally for an anniversary, and many other life experiences) that my visiting parents said, quite simply, “stop it”. This is the story of how I began to “stop the madness” and how it helped me eventually shape how I built my own company.
Striving for work-life balance as an employer
So, it was from a place of understanding and wanting something different that I came to co-create (with our CHO Heidi Clark) an environment of work-life balance at Redfish. Having broken into High Tech in the Bay Area, we had expanded our operations to various locations in the U.S. and located our headquarters in the Sun Valley, Idaho area. We chose to live in this mountain town because there are so many amazing things to do right outside of Redfish’s doors.
Proper care and feeding
We also asked ourselves: What’s most important to our group right now? What is their currency per se? Most of our groups include outdoor enthusiasts of some sort, so to reward and motivate them; we have provided passes for our Nordic trails, downhill ski passes, and gym memberships.
What is important to our group changes and fluxes as our staff grows and we strive to keep our finger on the pulse. We consciously ask for feedback from all our employees and check in to see where we are lining up. Whether it’s hour and 1/2 lunches, shutting down the office for a group powder day or giving an extra 2 weeks off during the holiday season, we see to it that people are taking the time that they need to fill themselves up. It’s our hope that we support and honor all of our employee’s passions. This is not easy and is always changing but it remains a priority for us.
Fostering team building
When we consult with a company and they ask for input on hiring we can use our own experience, successes and failures to help them on their way in regards to work-life balance. It’s an important piece of any corporate culture. At Redfish we find that team effort is a large component; working in together in our offices allows us to feed off of each other’s energy and support each other, sharing jobs and candidates.
Return on investment
Again, it’s about figuring out the currency for you and for your team. Heidi and I like to travel and immerse ourselves in different cultures. Four years ago we had a group of adventurous young travelers on our team so we chose to split our group to include a remote team of five in Mexico to live and work for one year. The benefits we experienced were outstanding. The production increased, the working hours decreased, and everyone benefited from a health/emotional perspective.
We often forget how important balance is and misjudge the importance of it in the eyes of our employees. Employee production, moral, and retention have improved as Heidi and I have become increasingly more aware of the importance of this. The key is surrounding yourself with employees that you trust and value and supporting them on their life journey both inside and outside of the office.
I’m proud and relieved to have learned this valuable lesson early in my life and we love passing it along to the people who work so hard with us at Redfish.
Rob entered the recruiting industry in 1995 with EmersoftCorporation after graduating with a dual major in Finance and Japanese from the University of Washington. He successfully managed and trained recruiters until eventually founding Redfish Technology in 1997. His leadership brought Redfish from a predominantly West Coast Technical Recruiting focus to a nationwide, full service staffing firm focusing on the High Tech and Green Tech sectors.
With a passion for life and adventure, Rob has lived abroad in Kobe, Japan and (with his wife and kids) Sonora, Mexico. Rob currently resides in the Northern Rockies of Sun Valley, Idaho and enjoys skiing, hiking, golf, playing guitar and spending time with his wife and two children.
More on Work-Life Balance
See our resource library. The Work-Life Balance and Workplace Flexibility section hosts a series of new articles.